Pregnancy doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your fitness routine — it just means it has to be tweaked. For decades, old wives’ tales deemed exercise during pregnancy as potentially dangerous when, in fact, that is quite the opposite of the truth. According to the NHS, keeping fit and active during pregnancy can help your body adapt to its changing shape, cope with labour and boost post-natal recovery.
There are plenty of positives, but also several rules to follow when working out while pregnant. Exercise should not be strenuous: a general rule of thumb is that pregnant women should be able to hold a conversation while working out. Whether you’re looking to incorporate a pregnancy-safe fitness class into your prenatal routine or are looking to get back into the gym postpartum, it’s important to speak to a health professional before making changes to your fitness regime. Once you’ve been given the all-clear, here’s where we recommend booking an enjoyable, endorphin-raising class in the capital.
With outposts in Hampstead and Chiswick, BarreCore is a stalwart on London’s fitness scene, combining low-impact, ballet-inspired moves in a session that aims to work all your muscles. Fans of this trendy workout won’t have to give it up while they’re expecting, as BarreCore’s prenatal modifications prep mums-to-be with a range of pregnancy-safe adaptations which can be incorporated into the brand’s signature classes.
On a mission to improve posture, the classes also strengthen muscle tone in arms, thighs and glutes. Special attention is given to pelvic floor muscles to help improve pelvic stability and maintain your transverse abdominals, which will help prepare the body for labour, birth and recovery.
Simply book a private prenatal modification session to learn how to adapt the standard Barrecore movements so they’re safe and comfortable during pregnancy. On completion, clients are welcome to book BarreSignature, BarreSculpt, BarreForm and BarreRestore sessions. For those looking for something a little more specific, the dedicated BarrePrenatal class is a uniquely tailored barre class just for mothers-to-be.
Offering both pre and postnatal yoga classes, TriYoga’s specially-tailored sessions are taught by some of the most experienced instructors in the UK. Its prenatal yoga is suitable for both beginner students and experienced practitioners who have passed their first trimester, aiming to help women enjoy their pregnancy with minimal discomfort, cultivate breath awareness and strengthen the body in preparation for labour.
Once your little one has arrived, head back to TriYoga for its Mummy + Me baby yoga classes, for those aged from six weeks to crawling — and dads needn’t be left out either. The class incorporates movement, balances, and restorative poses to aid recovery and build strength following pregnancy and birth, as well as providing the perfect opportunity to connect with your new baby through play, touch, eye contact and singing.
Ten Health and Fitness
Moving onto Pilates, Ten’s pre and postnatal classes aim to help mums build their core and pelvic strength to cope with birth and recovery. Research suggests mothers who regularly exercise their core muscles go on to experience shorter labours and reduced pelvic pain, so embrace the muscle fatigue induced by your time on Ten’s reformer machines — it will be worth it in the long run. Mums-to-be are recommended to wear heart monitors during these prenatal sessions and are welcome to join classes up to 28 weeks into their pregnancy provided they’ve passed Ten’s prenatal assessment.
Ten’s postnatal Pilates is open to mums a minimum of six weeks after a natural birth and eight to twelve weeks post-caesarean. Expect reformer moves that aim to regain abdominal strength, realign imbalanced posture and reduce scar tissue in a class which also offers mental benefits such as reducing stress and reclaiming time for yourself.
Founded in 2005 by physiotherapist Sarah Lorentzen to meet the need for safe and fun pregnancy fitness classes in London, Maternally Fit has become a leader in the field. Now headed by Helen Croasdale-Smith, who began teaching classes in 2011 during her pregnancy and postnatal periods, Maternally Fit hosts sessions run by chartered physiotherapists for the novice and experienced exerciser.
These aerobic classes for both expecting and new mums include cardiovascular fitness and strength training. The prenatal classes are based around the use of a gym ball and hand weights, whereas the postnatal classes utilise a resistance band to begin gentle toning. Both have a particular focus on core stability and pelvic floor training, and mums can trust they’ll be getting sweaty while staying safe.
Founded by two friends who wanted to inject a little fun into fitness, Frame’s wide range of pre and postnatal classes has something for every mum. The dedicated Mumhood groups are perfect opportunities for expecting and new mums to socialise while gently working out. Prenatal Strength classes make the most of sizeable weights and low reps to build muscle, whereas Prenatal Sculpt utilises upbeat music, low weights and high reps to tone. For postpartum routines, book Frame’s Core Rehab — which uses functional movement patterns such as squats, pulls, hinges and walks — to strengthen the pelvic floor and inner core.
Jelly Belly PT
Working on a one-to-one basis, Jelly Belly PT is a team of pre and postnatal exercise specialists providing safe and effective personal training sessions. Founded by Kellie Moore, Jelly Belly fitness programmes are tailored to the individual and trainers create customised workouts that can be practiced at home, with additional videos featuring new exercises included as the pregnancy progresses. The team also hosts in-person classes at Push Studio in East Dulwich — such as Pregnancy Fit, which incorporates a mix of standing, seated and floor work to work the whole body — as well as outdoor classes at Peckham Rye and Dulwich Park where toddlers and babies are welcome too.
Read more: Jillian Michaels: The American gym guru on how to reach your fitness goals